It’s Official: Facebook Now Has 500 Million Users

Facebook says it officially now has 500 million users, a milestone that the company had been expected to hit for months. The timing of the announcement seems to indicate that Facebook’s growth has not slowed globally, even as its growth has tapered off in more established markets like the U.S.

The company said three months ago it had 400 million users, six months after it had heralded 300 million.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company’s userbase could reach 1 billion if it manages to improve its position in Japan, Russia, China and South Korea — four countries where Facebook is not the social networking leader.

Facebook is celebrating the 500 million figure by encouraging users to share how Facebook has impacted their lives via a new app, and a “thank you” photo gallery from employees.

Those festivities have to be a nice change on a PR level for Facebook, which is facing renewed questions about the origins of the site. The latest charge being played out in court is that Zuckerberg may have signed a contract seven years ago that entitles a New York man to majority ownership of the site.